Local Riders Storm The Track – Barry Burke Warragul Cycling Carnival & OTC Jnrs Only Carnival

29/01 – 30/01/2005

Between downpours and the continuous threat of dark clouds, sparks flew at the 14 th annual Barry Bourke Warragul Cycling Carnival on Saturday with a fantastic afternoon of racing. With the mid-morning showers causing only minor delays to the program, a late shower shortly before the Victorian State Madison Championships caused its cancellation. However, crowds were not disappointed by the event program as a strong local contingent of track riders lit up the velodrome with successful performances all afternoon.

Warragul’s Brett Rollinson took out the C grade scratch race, fellow teammate James Henry won the U17 2000m handicap in exciting fashion, and Latrobe rider Charles Howlett collected the top prize in both the C grade motorpace and progressive points score races.

After a week of intense heat across Victoria , Saturday’s cool change cast doubts over the Warragul Velodrome as riders and officials took refuge from the downpour. As rain drenched the 333m concrete track Saturday morning, synoptic charts were studied, estimating a good chance of a clear afternoon. Almost on cue, the rain eased and finally stopped in time for the program to commence with only a short delay.

With twenty-five riders representing Gippsland clubs Leongatha, Latrobe City and Warragul, familiar faces could be seen competing in almost every event. Junior Warragul riders Tynon Gatt, Rubert and Reuben Hudd-Baillie and Charles Davine kicked off the track program with admirable performances in the U11 and U13 events. Their efforts paved the way for podium finishes for U15 Stuart Smith of Leongatha and U17 rider James Henry from Warragul, with support from teammate Daniel deBlauw, in their respective scratch races.

The local contingent came to force in the men’s C grade scratch race, with nine Latrobe City riders and two Warragul riders dominating the field. Despite the Valley depth, it was Warragul’s Scott Keeble who dug deep for 2 laps, leading out fellow teammate Brett Rollinson who took to the front on the back straight and rolled home for victory, with Latrobe rider Charles Howlett third.

The 2000m handicap events were another opportunity for local riders to shine, with Latrobe City members Howlett, Craig Skinner and Wayne Collins joined by Warragul riders Chris Hunt, Scott Keeble, and Brett Rollinson in qualifying for the final in the men’s open event, and Warragul’s James Henry, Leongatha’s Tim Murphy and Latrobe’s Matt Mullens qualifying in the U17 final. Skinner collected third place in the open final, while James Henry stole the show in the U17 final with a superb victory on his home turf.

The C grade Motorpace event, an endurance event of over 12 laps, was also dominated by Gippsland with Charles Howlett a clear winner over fellow teammate Craig Skinner and Warragul’s Brett Rollinson. In top form, Howlett also dominated the C grade progressive points score with a timely attack to collect a smattering of points available on the final laps. Darren Spiteri, also from Latrobe, finished third.

The women’s track events were run in an Omnium series, an event in which points are collected throughout the evening on results from four different events. Latrobe’s Peta Mullens collected silver from her consistent finishes throughout the afternoon, but was no match for top Victorian rider Tess Downing who collected the overall prize. Warragul’s Monique Hanley gathered a significant amount of experience from her first open track meet.

In the highly charged Keirin event, Victorian representative Joel Leonard tore the track apart with a superb launch in the back straight, winning by a clear margin over Daniel Thorsen and Leongatha’s Gerard Murphy.

In contrast to Saturday’s weather, the Sunday CTC ‘Juniors Only’ Carnival was run in perfect conditions. Four State Championship events were held including the Victorian U15 and U17 scratch races for both men and women. Gippsland had many representatives, but it was Geelong rider Leigh Howard who dominated the results in the men’s U17 events, including the major prize of the day, the Baw Baw Cup on Wheels over 2000m. Carnegie Caulfield rider Lisa Friend dominated the women’s U17 events in a similar fashion, collecting the State scratch championship, while Bendigo’s Carley McCoombe won the U15 women’s title and Brunswick’s Patrick Drapac the U15 men’s title.

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